The Women-Bearers of the Qur’aan (1)

"And We (Allah) have made the Holy Quran easy to understand and remember,

then is there any that will receive admonition?"{footnote}The Quran, 54:17{/footnote}

sistersmemorizingIn Arabic the term for a woman who has memorized the Qur’aan is 'Haafidhah' and its plural is 'Haafidhaat'. It’s a prestigious title of honor unlike any other, it’s a blessing which is indescribable and it’s a title for one who has been blessed to travel a journey and tread a path only undertaken by a few out of the majority of Allah’s creation.

For the real Haafidhah, every page glows forth right into her heart, taking away and washing the dirt and accumulated filth, rubble and debris therein. Every letter sparkles, twinkles and glitters eemaan-boosts that emanate and seep into her heart and into her very essence and being. For the Haafidhah, every Surah creates, instills and infuses a unique, healthy and life transforming relationship into every aspect and facet of her life.

She no longer feels alone, she no longer thinks like others. She stands in front of her Lord without needing a copy of the Qur’aan in her hands and says “Allahu Akbar” and then disconnects from the world for a while and enjoys her sojourn to find tranquility and spiritual peace through the soothing words of Ar-Rahmaan, Ar-Raheem, Allah the Almighty. It is then that she experiences help, comfort and consolation unfound and unexplainable through the mediums of this worldly life. She isn’t in need of any other therapy; she isn’t in need of counseling by people who are themselves lost and in need of Allah. She isn’t in need of anti-depressants, which only further mess up her mind, pushing people towards moments of insanity and further despair. She isn’t in need of others performing Ruqyah on her, for she has turned towards her Lord herself and is constantly working on being a meek slave in front of the Omnipotent, yet Forgiving and Merciful Lord. Yes, she is a Haafidhah, she is truly blessed; she is human, yet carries the words of her Creator in her heart. Her heart has been chosen by Allah Himself, for nothing in this creation can come about except by the idhn (permission) of Allah. This Muslimah, this Haafidhah who takes the Qur’aan as her guide, can gain proximity and spirituality without leaving the boundaries of the Canons of Islamic Law, and without falling into innovation. For how can one claim spirituality and truth by going away from the way of the truthful one (Muhammad, peace be upon him) and by leading a life away from the words of Allah, Almighty? No. It can never happen. The Qur’aan will continue to be a blessing for her, it continues to elevate her rank until and unless she stops acting upon its words and injunctions, which we pray never happens, as then, for such a person, the end is feared and the punishment severe.

Today it is truly tragic that many women have allowed their whole lives to pass by them but haven’t still finished memorizing the 30th and 29th Juzz of the Qur’aan, while the rest of the Noble Qur’aan stays untouched. If you ask them to recite from that which they do know, some shy away due to their Tajweed (recitation) being rusty or due to weak memorization. It’s true that the Sahaabah would only memorize ten verses, practice them, and then continue on in their journey of memorizing the Qur’aan. But many of us are on an indefinite halt, a continuous stop; we just can’t seem to carry on and are really lagging behind big time when it comes to our relationship with the verses of Allah, the Mighty Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them. We find ourselves being similar to the one who sits in a train station, unaware and careless of the many trains that halt and then continue on, which could have taken us to our destination. Similarly, we remain too, idly sitting by without taking the effort to continue on. And then later, when regret hits us, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Especially in today’s world, when satan is in a constant battle against the Qur’aan; be that directly, such as attempts to burn the Qur’aan (N.B. the failed attempt of ‘Burn a Quran’ day), or indirectly, by mocking, ridiculing and belying its very message.

quranniqaabAs daughters, sisters, mothers and wives we have a huge responsibility to try and instill the love of Allah’s words into the hearts of our loved ones and the generations to come. Our homes should be surrounded by the protecting Words of the Almighty, its peace emanating within our homes. But how can we achieve this when we ourselves have not achieved this connection, when we ourselves don’t have its message in our hearts and minds?

Before we dive into other sciences, we should learn the Qur’aan. Traditionally, and even today in countries such as Mauritania, some scholars and institutions of Islamic learning make it a condition that the enrolling student knows the whole Qur’aan by heart or a significant portion of it. This is because it is the foundation of knowledge, the sea from which lakes of knowledge flow and the seed from which sprout the fruits of knowledge. Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“After or alongside acquiring language skills, the girls would turn their attention to the Qur’aan, learning how to recite and memorize it, and understand its meaning. Only then would they start learning hadeeths by memorizing and then narrating them. Those with more aptitude would go on to learn how to think about the ‘scholarly apparatus’ of the hadeeths – their occasions and their narrators – how to distinguish among narrators and chains of narrators, and learn the sunnahs that derive from the hadeeth and how to implement them…From my study of biographies of the women scholars of this period I can affirm that girls usually began their studies with Arabic language and developed reading, speaking and writing skills. At the same time they would learn Qur’aan, reciting and memorizing it. Some learnt the whole of it by heart at a remarkable young age.”{footnote}Al-Muhaddithaat: the women scholars of Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi, pages 110 and 111.{/footnote}

He also wrote:

“All the major jurists in the history of Islam began their education by memorizing the Qur’aan, learning its different recitations, and gaining expertise in its interpretation. Women have also built this strong relationship with the Book, the fruit of which is that it is fully internalized, and they become fluent in it, speaking from it like a mother tongue.”{footnote}Al-Muhaddithaat: the women scholars of Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi, page 275.{/footnote}

Dear Sisters, I want you to consider and compare the knowledge and memorization of the Haafidhaat I will shortly mention, to your own. You can do this as you sit reading these words on your laptop, computer or mobile or you can take out some special time this week to take it a step further and organize and (re-)plan your journey through the Qur’aan, even if completing your hifdh will take you absolute years. We shouldn’t forget that one of the questions that we will be asked in the grave is regarding the Qu’raan, which may come as a surprise to some. For, it has been proven authentically in narrations that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said that Al-Munkar and An-Nakeer (two angels) will come to the person in the grave and ask, ‘What did you do?’ S/he will say,

‘I read (or recited) the Book of Allah. And I believed in it.’{footnote}This lengthy hadith narrated by al-Baraa ibn Aazib is reported by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, at-Tayalisi, and al-Hakim who said it is according to the standards of Bukhari and Muslim.{/footnote}

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